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Sardinia and Corsica 2019, Endemic Butterflies et al. (1 Viewer)

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
14 July. Aritso.

The western side of the Genneargentu range, plan for the morning was to explore the small roads leading into the hills above Aritso. Morning efforts considerably hindered by high cloud, though a good showing of Purple Hairstreaks around oaks at lower elevations - in a brief period of hazy sun, at least 20 active around a couple of oaks.

Climbing higher, clouds thickened and spots of rain basically closed down the day. Butterfly activity essentially halted, though it was relatively easy to find roosting butterflies, including a couple of Lang's Short-tailed Blues and two Corsican Idas Blues. And that is how the day remained until approximately 4 pm when a break in the clouds finally gave an hour of blue skies …and with it, an immediate transformation - mass butterfly activity, hundreds of individuals flying, everything from four species of fritillary and three species of grayling to numerous Southern Blues and Southern Brown Argus. And just as the day had begun, so it also ended with Purple Hairstreaks, a couple buzzing around the oaks as the sun again vanished behind cloud.

Despite the cloud, 28 species seen this day, not a bad total. Special mention needs also to go to Hummingbird Hawk Moths - flying even when cloudy, at least 60 noted today, loose flocks of then feeding at thistle heads.

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Purple Hairstreak and Hummingbird Hawkmoths


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Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
15 July. Desulo & Aritso.

Following on from the previous day of cloud, I decided a return to the Aritso area was in order, starting at Desulo and then later back to the roads above Aritso itself.

Fantastic weather this day, and quite a notable increase in graylings in the Desulo area in comparison to my visit nine days earlier - on the slopes, where there had been single Great Banded Graylings and Southern Graylings, now there were minimums of 40 and 60 respectively, where they had been six Corsican Graylings, now there were at least 25. Likewise, Southern Blues up from about 40 to over 120, a number of other species also higher to a lesser degree. Going the other way however, quite a drop in Corsican Idas Blues, the few remaining here mostly tatty and faded. Unfortunately, still no sign of Sardinian Small Tortoiseshell or Corsican Red-underwing Skipper, season still too early. Spotless Starlings, Corsican Finches, Crag Martins and Woodlarks among the birds.

After a few pleasant hours of wandering, decided to descend to the Riu Pedras Fitta stream, a fairly productive locality on my earlier visit. And still productive it was on this visit too - along a bubbling stream, in dappled sunshine, a very nice range of butterflies, key among them two Oberthur's Grizzled Skippers still present and a couple of Mallow Skippers. Also a couple of Purple Hairstreaks, a healthy number of all four fritillaries (Queen of Spain, Corsican, Silver-washed and Cardinal). Sardinian Meadow Browns also here, along with Lang's Short-tailed Blue, lots of Speckled Woods and one Two-tailed Pasha.

Mid-afternoon at Aritso was not particularly outstanding - pretty much the same species as the day before, nothing to persuade me to stay too long. So to conclude the day, I decided on an early return to the hotel and a short wander up a track behind the hotel ... Purple Hairstreak hotspot! In a mere hundred metres or so, bumped into no less than 40, quite wonderful. Seemed very much they were heading for roost, all fluttering to the lea of bushes and trees, immediately settling in the shade.

And so concluded the day, a wander back to the hotel and more encounters with Two-tailed Pashas a very pleasant finale.

16 July. Monte Tonneri & Villaputzu.

Final day in the mountains, and a last attempt at Sardinian Chalkhill Blue. Still a couple of weeks early in the season, this was always going to be an outside chance, and so it was - hiked up to the summit of Monte Tonneri, a mere handful of kilometres from Perda Liana, site of my first attempt. Plenty of Southern and Corsican Graylings, two Purple Hairstreaks and a few Southern Blues and Southern Brown Argus, but that was about it on the butterfly front - no Sardinian Chalkhill Blue! Not bad birding again however - luck with a family of Barbary Partridge prior to the climb, then Woodlarks, Tawny Pipits and Marmora's Warbler on the limestone plateau.

With that, my trip to Sardinia was nearing its end - left the mountains, descended to the coast and decided on a random stop near Villaputzu, immediately finding Bee-eaters hunting low over the fields and Woodchat Shrikes feeding fledged young. Some luck on the butterflies too - after checking several areas largely devoid of butterflies, I found an overgrown orange grove. And in this, a nice surprise - not only an Old World Swallowtail, several Lang's Short-tailed Blues, but a totally unexpected species - new for the trip, no less than three Pygmy Skippers! Not a bad way to end the day.

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
A few from these days


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